Philippines House Group Begins Work on FOI Bill

6 February 2014

A technical working group of a Philippines House committee has scheduled a meeting for Feb. 12 to discuss merging 22 freedom of information bills.

The Public Information Committee meeting Feb. 5 agreed to adopt the noncontroversial provisions in the final draft, according to an Inquirer report.  The article says:

Meanwhile, the group would debate on the contentious ones such as the exemption from the bill of records of executive sessions and statements of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN), as well as the expanded exemptions due to national security in the Malacañang-sponsored FOI bill.

The committee chairman Rep. Jorge Almonte has been slow to convene the working group, critics have charged. (See previous report.)

Authors of FOI bills met last week to find ways to speed up passage of the FOI bill while waiting for Almonte to convene the working group, ABS-CBN News reported.

They “are trying to win more active support from President Benigno Aquino III with a consolidated version they said contains provisions proposed by Malacanang,” according to an InterAksyon report.

One supporter of the legislation, Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, told BusinessWorld in a text message that the “pace is a bit sluggish to my liking.”

Almonte said: “It’s too early to tell if it wouldn’t go through the 16th Congress” noting that “there are many remaining sessions in the 16th Congress.”

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